Enlistment and Basic Training

Interviewee: Justin Bancroft

Born: December 21, 1978

Justin Bancroft was born in Anaheim, California where he spent most of his childhood. His family moved to Utah in 1989. He never felt he was the best student in school and looked to the armed service as an option after school. Furthermore, he discusses his early respect for the armed forces. After meeting with several recruiters from different branches of the military, he decided to enlist in the U.S. Marine Reserves. Upon completion of boot camp he checked into Fox Company 2 / 23. He was able to serve an LDS Church mission and start a family before 9/11. Shortly after news broke of the attacks he was packing his equipment and getting ready for deployment. Though eager to start his service, it was mainly with the thought of getting it done and returning to his new family as soon as possible. His unit deployed as a quick reaction force in California for a period of about ten months. Most of this time he and his fellow Marines were filled with uncertainty and he recalls the monotony of drills, physical training, and classes. When he returned home, he felt it would not be long before he was deployed again. He was correct and in 2003 he was shipped overseas as a part of the 1st Marine Division in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Justin’s unit arrived in Kuwait and the initial experience reminded him of his time in California except with sandstorms. When his unit finally crossed the border into Iraq he was scared to death but excited to get the job over with. He remembers seeing U.S. aircraft and tanks attacking buildings but the reality of war did not hit him until he started seeing the human toll of war.  He talks about how there was no way to prepare himself mentally for the brutality of war. His unit was one of the first to enter Baghdad. Upon entering the city, he remembers feeling as if he was being attacked from every direction. Once the intense fighting subsided his unit needed to find ways to keep themselves entertained such as playing baseball. Justin’s journey back home went very smoothly. He was thanked by many people, had his meals paid for, got to march in a few parades, and most importantly was reunited with his family. However he feels that many Americans under-appreciate their freedoms and wishes that people would show more respect for their country.